Criterium du Dauphine 2017: Arnaud Demare sprints to stage two win - Road Cycling UK

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Criterium du Dauphine 2017: Arnaud Demare sprints to stage two win

Frenchman far too good for his rivals as he sends pre-Tour de France message

Arnaud Demare (FDJ) outsprinted Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha-Alpecin) to prove his pre-Tour de France form and win stage two of the 2017 Criterium du Dauphine.

Demare was far too good in the final sprint, spotting a gap on the right-hand side and powering through to leave his rivals trailing in his wake by several bike lengths.

Thomas de Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) remains race leader meanwhile, finishing safely in the bunch – as did all the main GC contenders.

Arnaud Demare won stage two fo the Criterium du Dauphine 2017 (pic – Sirotti)

A flatter stage stood out as a first opportunity for the sprinters, but four riders were still happy to form the day’s break – Koen Bouwman (LottoNL-Jumbo), Mickael Delage (FDJ), Nate Brown (Cannondale-Drapac) and Romain Combaud (Delko Marseille Provence KTM).

Delage’s time up the road was limited, however, with his role to play for Demare too important to the team, who called him back shortly afterwards.

De Gendt’s team-mates took over the pace setting, and the lead hovered around the three-minute mark, with little to worry about for the peloton.

When Astana joined the pace-setting, that advantage came down even more – Luis Leon Sanchez riding hard on the front to the extent that the gap tumbled to 1’40”.

Astana’s efforts split the peloton up temporarily, but when Alexey Lutsenko attacked and the pace eased, the groups behind – including Direct Energie sprinter Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie) latched back on.

Lutsenko bridged to the three escapees, and immediately set about setting the tempo in the break – though the gap was only 40 seconds at the first passage of the finish line, with 31.5km still to race.

Lutsenko chose to press on solo, but with plenty of teams happy to contribute to the chase he was left dangling in front with no real advantage.

Chris Froome finished safely in the peloton again, and sits 13th overall after two stages (pic: Sirotti)

His defiance saw him hold out until there were 3km remaining, but the sprinters were not to be denied and FDJ, Bahrain-Merida, Cofidis, Direct Energie and Katusha-Alpecin were all in the mix for their respective fast men.

Ben Swift (UAE Team Emirates) was among the freelancers up the road too, and was third wheel as Katusha-Alpecin dropped Kristoff at the front and the sprint opened up.

But neither he nor Kristoff had any answer when Demare kicked, and came hurtling down the outside with Bouhanni – who had been on his wheel – also unable to respond.

The Frenchman powered on, finishing with a huge gap on his sprinting rivals to send an ominous message to his sprinting rivals ahead of the Tour de France.

Tour de France 2017: stage two – result

1) Arnaud Demare (FRA) – FDJ – 4.13.53hrs
2) Alexander Kristoff (NOR) – Katusha-Alpecin – ST
3) Nacer Bouhanni (FRA) – Cofidis
4) Sonny Colbrelli (ITA) – Bahrain-Merida
5) Phil Bauhaus (GER) – Team Sunweb
6) Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR) – Dimension Data
7) Ben Swift (GBR) – UAE Team Emirates
8) Pascal Ackermann (GER) – Bora-hansgrohe
9) Alberto Bettiol (ITA) – Cannondale-Drapac
10) Bryan Coquard (FRA) – Direct Energie

General classification

1) Thomas de Gendt (BEL) – Lotto-Soudal – 8.30.47hrs
2) Axel Domont (FRA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale +48”
3) Diego Ulissi (ITA) – UAE Team Emirates +1.03
4) Pierre Latour (FRA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale +1.07
5) Emanuel Buchmann (GER) – Bora-hansgrohe – ST
6) Sonny Colbrelli (ITA) – Bahrain-Merida +1.09
7) Ben Swift (GBR) – UAE Team Emirates – ST
8) Alberto Bettiol (ITA) – Cannondale-Drapac
9) Tony Gallopin (FRA) – Lotto-Soudal
10) Julien Simon (FRA) – Cofidis

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